By Jim Newell
Last May, Team 302’s alliance finished second at the FIRST Robotics World Championships and this year’s team wants to make sure they are back competing for a championship.
The team began its season on Saturday, when the rules and design for the FIRST Robotics competition were revealed.
“Today we have the kickoff for the new 2018 game called ‘Power Up.’ So, we’re just getting excited and getting ready. This is when it all starts for our season for the next six weeks,” said Team 302 mentor Tim Lawrence. “They’re really excited. Everybody’s been really restless and not sleeping.”
The team gathered in the Kiva at the high school, laptops, tablets and cell phones at the ready as soon as the game details were announced.
“They’ll announce the game, all the game rules, all the elements of the game will be identified and then we’ll go and start creating the requirements and specifications for the robot and start building it,” Lawrence said.
The team met from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday.
After the new game is revealed, the kids will review the specs in the game manual, brainstorm, devise some conceptual ideas and start working on concept prototypes.
“It’s going to be a long weekend, but hopefully by the end of the weekend we’ll be ready with concepts and we’ll start building on Monday,” Lawrence said.
The team will likely work on the new robot right up until competition, making adjustments and fine tuning its performance to ensure maximum efficiency in the game arena.
The team will meet three hours each night, Monday – Friday, and seven hours on Saturdays over the next six weeks.
“I think we’re anticipating working about 160 hours on the robot this year,” Lawrence said. “We’re going to be really aggressive this year. We were aggressive last year, but we’re stepping it up a notch.”
The first competition of the season is March 1-3 at the Miami Valley Regional at Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio.
Senior Grant Potter, the business lead for Team 302, said that after the opening weekend the team is already making significant headway.
“We are doing absolutely fantastic, we are making fantastic progress right now. We’ve gotten so much done the last few days and we are making really great strides to have a really successful season,” Potter said.
“We took the game manual and broke that down to its essential parts and looked at what we wanted our robot to do and what we needed it to be able to do,” Potter said. “We looked at what were the requirements we needed to have in order to make it successful and what designs could achieve those requirements.”
The team then took those concepts and made them out of Legos to see if they would work and then took the best designs and are now making them out of wood and other parts to gauge their capabilities, Potter said.
“Our season never really lets up in the amount of work that we have to do. It’s always one project after the next,” Potter said. “But knowing our team, we’ll always pull through getting everything done.”
Team 302 has four building sub-teams: fabrication, electrical, CAD and software. Some of the students build the robot, while others work on the “pit” or home base the team uses during competitions, business development and marketing and scouting.
“Things you wouldn’t think have anything to do with robots,” Potter said.
Cathy Lawrence, fundraising chairperson for Team 302, said the team is “doing pretty good on sponsorships” after the success of last season, but can always use more support.
The Lake Orion Review is again a sponsor for Team 302.
She said the team will need around $85,000 for the season. The money goes toward the two district, one regional and world championship trips, as well for food during practices and tournaments.
“We’ve estimated that it’s going to cost $85,000 to fund the team this year. We need about $10,000 more and any food donations from restaurants help out,” Cathy Lawrence said.
The money also covers travel costs, hotels, t-shirts for the team, parts for the robot and other expenses. “We estimate the robot is going to cost about $25,000,” she said.
For more information on Team 302, including sponsorship and donation information, visit www.Team302.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on FIRST Robotics, including a video of this year’s game field, visit www.Firstinspires.org.